Teaching PR On-Line for Northwestern State University

Friday, February 10, 2006

PR Nightmares at NASA

This news story comes from CNN. It shows how not acting properly or ethically in PR can get you in trouble--Ric

NASA appointee resigns in wake of public affairs row

Thursday, February 9, 2006

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- A NASA political appointee who worked in the space agency's public relations department submitted his resignation after reportedly restricting access to a noted NASA climate scientist.

NASA spokesman Dean Acosta confirmed Wednesday that George C. Deutsch had resigned late Tuesday, but would say little more. Deutsch, 24, was appointed in February 2005.

The New York Times reported that Deutsch tried to limit reporters' access to Jim Hansen, a noted NASA climate scientist, and insisted that a Web designer insert the word "theory" before any mention of the Big Bang.

"George attracted attention because some of the things he demanded were so outrageous," Hansen wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

NASA also said it was reviewing the practices of its public affairs office.

Administrator Michael Griffin sent an e-mail to the agency's workers on Saturday in which he discussed scientific openness and the role of the agency's public affairs office.

"The job of the Office of Public Affairs, at every level in NASA, is to convey the work done at NASA to our stakeholders in an intelligible way," Griffin wrote. "It is not the job of public affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA's technical staff."

Hansen, a scientist who has studied climate change almost three decades, said he wanted to speak as a private citizen on the subject.

"The risks of global warming have not received the attention they deserve," Hansen wrote.

Efforts to reach Deutsch by telephone in Washington and Texas were unsuccessful Wednesday.


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